In order to reduce delay on bus routes entering Central Austin from MoPac Expressway, Austin Transportation is working with Capital Metro to install transit improvements on West Fifth Street. These include a shared transit and bicycle priority lane between West Lynn and Baylor streets, with priority bus and bicycle signals at Baylor Street.
By repurposing the existing far right-hand bicycle lane to a shared transit and bicycle priority lane, the City of Austin will achieve greater system efficiency and support multimodal transportation choices without reducing capacity on the remaining three vehicle lanes.
“In the Austin Strategic Direction 2023, Austin City Council directed us to improve access to and equity of multimodal options, such as driving, walking, biking and taking transit,” said Robert Spillar, P.E., Austin Transportation Department Director. “We’re launching our effort to achieve this goal by partnering with Capital Metro to more efficiently move people through this critical segment of West Fifth Street."
"Our partnerships are essential to providing the people of Austin and Central Texas with real transportation options,” said Capital Metro President & CEO Randy Clarke. “This project demonstrates Capital Metro and the City of Austin’s commitment to making effective and reliable transit an important part of our transportation network.”
Austin Transportation will carry out the project in two phases. Crews will kick off construction of the first phase this week and staff anticipates completing it in January 2019, dependent on weather and other factors.
Recent analysis conducted in partnership with Capital Metro showed that buses currently experience five to seven minutes of delay at the intersection of Fifth Street and North Lamar Boulevard during the morning peak commute hours. The current delay impacts approximately 20 buses per hour during that time.
Providing transit vehicles with a dedicated lane for five blocks and signal priority for transit vehicles and bicycles through Baylor Street ahead of general purpose traffic will allow buses and bicycles to reach North Lamar more quickly. The projected travel time and cost savings of these improvements are approximately five minutes per bus.
The first phase of this project involves:
Dedicating a 14-foot-wide lane along Fifth Street, between West Lynn and Baylor streets, exclusively for transit vehicles, bicycles and right-turning vehicles
Restriping the existing travel lanes from 11 feet wide to 10 feet wide
Installing priority transit and bicycle signals at the intersection of Fifth and Baylor streets, allowing buses and bicycles to be queued out of the lane ahead of the general purpose lanes
Installing static signage demarcating the new lane as a transit- and bicycle-only lane
Phase two, planned for spring 2019, will consist of further clarifying the shared transit and bicycle lane using red markings and replacing the static signs with dynamic message signs to alert travelers of mobility changes.
This effort is one of many transit speed and reliability projects currently being undertaken and co-funded by the City and Capital Metro throughout Austin.